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UK industrial energy consumption falls

Recent energy statistics released by the government show that transport is the biggest energy consumer while industrial energy consumption has fallen.

The figures for energy and emissions in the UK come from the Office for National Statistics. They show transport has been the biggest consumer of energy since the 1980s and in 2013 it made up 38% of total energy consumption. Back in 1988 it accounted for 25% of the total energy consumption.

In comparison, industry accounted for just 17% of the UKs total energy consumption in 2013 but in 1988 the figure was 34%. Domestic consumption has remained relatively stable.

In the 1980s the UK was a net exporter of energy thanks to North Sea oil and gas. But reserves in the North Sea have diminished over the years and now the UK imports almost half of its energy. In 2013 the UK was dependent on imports for 47% of its energy – the highest level since 1974.

Despite a move towards renewable energy the main fuels used to generate electricity are still gas and coal. Over the last couple of years the use of coal has increased as coal imports have been cheap and gas prices have gone up.

Ageing nuclear reactors have been shut down over recent years.  As a result the amount of nuclear power used to generate electricity has dropped. In contrast the amount of renewable energy has increased since 1980. In 2013 it accounted for 15% of the total. The majority of this energy comes from wind and solar power.

The use of gas and renewables to generate electricity has resulted in the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions going down. This is one of the reasons for moving towards low carbon forms of energy generation along with achieving the targets set by the 2008 Climate Change Act. The Climate Change Act means that by 2050 the UK must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared with 1990 figures.

It’s important to ensure the UK’s energy security. It means the country meets its emissions targets and that it’s not dependent on imports for its energy. The stability of other countries can be a threat to our energy supplies. For example, the current situation between Russia and Ukraine shows that it can be a risk to rely on energy imports. It also shows the importance of a blend of fuels used to generate energy.

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